Heath are facing a battle for Yorkshire One survival after slipping into the relegation zone with a 22-17 defeat away to fellow strugglers North Ribblesdale yesterday.
It was a familiar tale as the North Dean men were in control for long spells, only to pay the price for a poor 20 minutes.
Fears are growing with matches against some of the leading sides in the next few weeks, starting with a visit from local rivals Old Brodleians next Saturday.
Heath started like a house on fire in glorious autumnal conditions at the Gannock, Settle, taking a 7-0 lead after two minutes.
Jordan Bradbrook broke clear with a strong run before releasing new signing James Robson, playing at stand-off, whose slick pass sent Lewis Barrett over in the corner. Bradbrook converted.
The home side could not cope with the onslaught, giving away a penalty after 10 minutes which Bradbrook put wide.
A clever kick and chase from Robson saw Heath get a line out 20 metres from the Ribb try line. Fergus Marsden tapped back and Dominic Walsh scooped up the ball to go in for Heath’s second try on 12 minutes to lead 12-0.
A penalty to North Ribblesdale on a rare raid into the Heath half pulled back three points. This seemed to inspire the hosts and when an attempted clearance from Bradbrook was charged down Ribb scored under the posts and the kick made it 10-12 after 22 minutes.
Heath’s response was quick and followed good work from Howard Hanks and Ben Maxwell. A kick through put Ribb under pressure, Si Brown charged down a kick and Eddie Carwright was in the right place at the right time to score Heath’s third try, again unconverted, on 25 minutes.
Heath had settled and Tom Baxter and Fergus Marsden were making strong runs from the scrums to put the home team under immense pressure.
Chris Moore and Matt Beasty surged forward and when the ball was released along the line through Robson, Cartwright and Barrett the centre looked sure to score Heath’s fourth try but he hesitated, slipped and the chance had gone.
It was all Heath and when Cartwright put in a superb cross field kick, Jack Sheldrake picked up and raced for the line, only for the Ribblesdale cover to come across and bundle him into touch.
Heath’s powerful pack won a penalty after 38 minutes but Bradbrook was off target again.
Half time came with Heath in total control and looking as if they could run away with the game.
The visitors begun where they had left off with Richard Brown in the thick of things and directing play from the back of the scrums. He linked well with Baxter and Sheldrake looked certain to score but was pushed into touch.
Ribb had re-grouped and were closing players down a lot quicker. Only a last gasp tackle from Bradbrook kept them out but Heath were beginning to buckle.
Coach Dave Harrison replaced Beasty, Alex McFadden and Brown with Mark Puttick, Luke Saltenstall and Ryan Hunter but Ribb had the bit between their teeth and scored a converted try on 58 minutes to level the scores.
With Heath players panicking, Ribb scored a third try 10 minutes later to edge ahead 22-17.
The visitors camped in the Ribb 22 late on and after several scrums were just short of the try line but when the ball squirted out, the home team kicked dead, much to their relief and Heath’s dismay.